Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa has told how he lived “homeless” before landing a role in the hit Netflix show.
The Scottish actor stars as Eric Effiong in the series about socially awkward high school student Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his sex therapist mother Jean (Gillian Anderson).
He said that when he moved from Scotland to London aged 21, he was unable to cope with the financial burden and ended up without a home.
Speaking to The Big Issue magazine, he said: “I am from Scotland and moved down to London when I was 21. I was working constantly – and at some good places – I spent a year at the Globe Theatre, I did a lot of work at Kneehigh, who are a physical theatre company.
“But you have to feed yourself, you have to get to work, with rent, bills, travel, days off from temping to go to an audition. I couldn’t seem to handle it all financially.
“I was supposed to move into a new place and it fell through. So for five months before Sex Education, I was couch-surfing among all my friends. I didn’t have a home. I was homeless.
“The only thing stopping me from being on the streets was the fact I had friends. But you can use up that goodwill. Or you feel scared to ask people for help. Your pride kicks in.
“So my life before Sex Education was so different. To go to my audition, I had to get my friend to transfer me 10 quid so I could top up my Oyster card.”
Gatwa, who recently became an ambassador for youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, was working as a perfume salesman at Harrods during this time.
He added: “I was thinking it was so mad, because if someone was to see me on the street – on my way to temping at Harrods in my trenchcoat and brogues – because you have to be so well-polished and look the part – they would never believe I was about to spend two hours on the phone to people trying to find where I could sleep that night…
“I couldn’t believe I was homeless and working in Harrods. How many people must be going through this in London?”
Season two of Sex Education launches on Netflix on January 17.
The Big Issue, sold by vendors to lift themselves out of poverty, is available to buy from January 13 across the UK.